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What is the Safer Communities Program?

Safer Communities is a behaviour change program, working specifically with people who perpetrate abuse and/or violence within their intimate family relationships. Its specific focus is the use of violent or abusive behaviours, which means exploring individuals’ attitudes, beliefs, emotional literacy and emotional regulation, and how these may relate to their problematic behaviours.

What is the referral process?

People may be directly referred to the program by the Department of Corrective Services (DCS). This may happen either pre-sentence or post-sentence, depending on the list under which the matter/s are heard, the plea the individual enters and the prerogative of the presiding magistrate.

The Family Court of Western Australia may require individuals who are alleged to have been abusive and/or violent within their relationship be assessed and/or engage in programmatic intervention. This is separate to the DCS stream.

Individuals may also self-refer. This can either be done by contacting one of our Safer Futures team members or via our online form.

What do you consider when deciding on a person’s suitability?

People who engage with this program have identified patterns of abuse within their relationships. Some of these patterns may include incidents of physical violence for which they have been charged and/or convicted of. For others, these patterns may appear in their stories, as they describe themselves, their partners and families, and the relationships they have with them. Things that are taken into account in assessing someone’s suitability for the program are their:

  • Identification of engaging in abusive behaviour;
  • Attitudes and understandings of family and domestic violence and the potential impacts this may have had on their partners, children, parents etc;
  • Responsibility taking;
  • Emotional literacy and regulation;
  • Risk indicators, including alcohol consumption or use of illicit substances, history of violence both within the home and more generally within the community;

Where information pertaining to the other persons point of view is available, this will also be considered, with the aim of providing an objective assessment of a person’s suitability and associated treatment needs.

Is program suitability a judgement of guilt?

Program suitability is not a judgement of guilt. It is a statement as to whether we have assessed an individual as being suitable to engage in the program based on the areas that we would seek to work with the relevant individual in.

Are program suitability and risk the same thing?

Risk and suitability are not the same. Risk relates to the likelihood that an individual will engage in the identified behaviours or behavioural patterns. While a person may be considered to be a high risk, due to the presence of several risk factors, they may not be suitable to engage in program. Similarly, a person who is considered a low risk would also likely be considered as not suitable to engage, however the reasoning would be different. It is important to be aware that a low risk does not mean that a person will not behave violently or abusively, it just means that they are less likely to engage in this behaviour than someone who has a moderate or high risk of doing so.